The Apple Watch is nice, but it didn’t quite live up to the hype.
Indeed, ever since the Apple Watch’s release, interest in smartwatches as a category is declining because people realised they’re really not “the next big thing.”
Instead, smartwatches seem to make better accessories than an essential gadget like a smartphone. They’re nice to have, but you don’t need one.
But we’ve reeled in our expectations and we love smartwatches for what they are. Smartwatches work best when used to do basic things like checking notifications and other at-a-glance updates.
However, Samsung’s upcoming Gear S2 smartwatch has reinvigorated our interest.
Only a few pictures of Gear S2 exist on the internet, but at least they’re official, and we’re comfortable in saying that it looks better than the Apple Watch. We’ll have all the details when Samsung formally announces the device at an event in Berlin on September 3.
The Gear S2 looks like it has a big, beautiful, sharp, round display that takes up the majority of the watch’s front surface. And it also looks like the display is slightly sunken into the seemingly sleek and slim design.
And the fact that the Gear S2 is round compared to the Apple Watch’s rectangular design is pretty significant. Don’t get me wrong, many people, including myself, like rectangular watches. But it just seems like a round display can show you information more efficiently than a rectangular display.
Take a look at the image on the above. It seems like Samsung has figured out a way to give you snippets of information while the watch face is taking up the Gear S2’s entire display.
While gorgeous, the Apple Watch’s display looks like there’s a lot of unused space, and the 10 watch faces (seven of which are round) look small against the rectangular display.
Also, as beautiful as the Apple Watch is, it looks more like a miniature iPhone concept rather than a timepiece.
Lastly, I didn’t have any problems with the rotating crown on the Apple Watch at first, but it now looks more like a protruding wart after looking at the Gear S2.
It might not run Android’s smartwatch OS
The Gear S2’s predecessor, the Gear Live, runs on Google’s smartwatch OS called Android Wear, which means it’s compatible with almost any brand of Android smartphone. But judging from what looks like the Gear S2’s app hub, it will be running Samsung’s own Tizen smartwatch operating system, which all of Samsung’s smartwatches before the Gear Live were running. That means Samsung’s new watch will probably only work with select Samsung phones.
While Android Wear’s compatibility with several brands and models is a good thing, its user interface doesn’t necessarily match every smartwatch design. For example, the relatively modern look of Android Wear looked somewhat out of place on LG’s Watch Urbane’s classic design when we tested it.
So, Tizen will be great for Samsung device owners, because it will be specifically designed for the Gear S2’s aesthetics.
You’ll control the watch with the bezel
According to people who have actually used the Gear S2, the bezel that surrounds the display will be the equivalent of the Apple Watch’s rotating crown, which is used to select items on the screen that are too small to accurately tap with your finger.
The Gear S2’s rotating bezel may work similarly to the Apple Watch’s rotating crown. Also, on of the buttons on the side of the Gear S2 could bring you back to the home screen, like it does on the Apple Watch.
Two somewhat seamless buttons are also visible on the Gear S2′ right side, one of which will surely be used for selecting on-screen items, and the other could be used as a sort of home button that brings you back to the Gear S2’s main home screen.
It might not need your smartphone
There are rumours that the Gear S2, or at least a model of the Gear S2, will have a nano-SIM port for a data connection, as well as making calls separately from your smartphone. You can make calls with the Apple Watch, but it needs to be connected to an iPhone via Bluetooth to do so.
That would take care of one of the biggest complaints people had with the Apple Watch. It’s almost useless if it’s not tethered to your phone.
What we don’t know
There’s quite a lot we don’t know about the Gear S2, like it’s internal components or what kind of bands will be available. A picture of the Gear S2 from a Samsung digital ad booklet shows what looks like a white plastic band, but we can’t be sure, and there’s no official information on what kinds of materials and designs we can expect for the bands.
It’s not clear whether or not the bands will be interchangeable, either. The picture above makes it appear as if the Gear S2 might not use a standard watch strap connection, so you might be restricted to Samsung sanctioned watch bands like we are with the Apple Watch.
It needs to address the three main problems with smartwatches
Interest in smartwatches has declined ever since people realised their limitations, including short battery lives and the screen’s inabilities to constantly stay on at a decent brightness. When you combine those limitations with the high price tag most smartwatches demand, it’s easy to see why you don’t see a smartwatch on everyone’s wrist.
So, to be a success, the Gear S2 needs to be able to last a couple days at the very least, it needs to show the time at a decent brightness all the time, and it needs to be less expensive than than the Apple Watch. We can be hopeful, but we won’t know anything until Samsung unveils more about the Gear S2 at the IFA event in Berlin on September 3.
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